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Using Your Voice Well

Rhythms are all around us.. have you noticed? I mentioned in my last blog post about how certain tempos that I walk or do stuff in, trigger a song in my head! It's fun. I'm passing the habit of bursting into song to my children so now, as I'm typing away here, my family is in the next room, playing lego, and each person is humming and singing their own tune. lol. Love it!

Today I want to talked about the rhythms that we can demonstrate in our speech!

When children are unhappy,

and they want you to concede,

rhyming to their rhythms and words

does NOT bring peace, take heed! 

A funny little poem that I just threw together for you to consider the ability of words to display rhythms.

I want you to reconsider how you vocalize and mark your exercises when you teach!

As a ballet teacher, you can approach your exercise mathematically as you make sure it's square, or sensibly not square (32+16, or 32 + 8). Once you've created an exercise you know is going to work out, musically, as well as physically, then you need to be prepared to mark and teach it; vocalizing musically as well as rhythmically!

You might be wondering what on earth I'm talking about, and that's fair. It's not talked about a lot once you become a teacher, here is what I mean.

Use your voice and the rhythms of the music to mark the exercise so that even if you have NOT told your students or musician what you want, they can hear it in your voice as you mark your exercise through your use of the music rhythm, relevant words, movement qualities, etc.

For example:

Ten-du froooont, stretch that leg...., lead with toes as you're press-ing closed.

Pressing the side.. point and reach and stretch close first.

Ten-du baaaack, hips stay square, smoothly closing heel goes first! 

Seconde and close, one more time, demi plie and slowly stretch. 

You'll notice I've used movements, positions, verbs, adverbs, directions and one number! What time signature was I thinking? Can you tell? What tempo was I thinking, generally? Can you tell?

Vocalizing your exercises in a way to communicate 'ALL THE THINGS',

is important!

The ability to communicate the rhythms and qualities of your exercise, while you're marking it, is brilliant!

When you as a teacher can utilities words and rhythms instead of just numbers in your marking, your students are going to pick up your exercise and it's qualities, quicker. If you have a musician, they're going to know EXACTLY what you want and how fast. When you finish marking, there are no doubts in anyone's minds about what you want, the tempo, the qualities of the movements of your dancers and what the purpose of your exercise is.

Speaking of, did you pick up on the purpose of my exercise? It was quickly thrown together for you to hear the rhythms and qualities, but, for dancers, if I were teaching, the point of it was the use of the floor by the foot! Using the foot and keeping the rotation of the leg.  It's not perfect, there is no perfect in this art, lol, but, I wanted to briefly demonstrate what I'm talking about when I'm talking about using your voice to mark musically. 

3 Benefits of Learning and Using this Skill

  1. You waste less time marking exercises and therefore, get more time for TEACHING! All teachers who love what they do, want more time, right?! There just isn't enough time in a day to teach all the things so, if you can expedite the teaching process by teaching the exercise once, clearly and musically, expressing the qualities you want, etc, there is no reason to spend more time on marking it. You know what I mean? 
  2. Your students will pick up on the musicality and physicality of the exercise subconsciously without you having to spend extra time talking about it! There's that time thing again! Plus, you're training your students to listen very intentionally because they should only need to hear it once.
  3.  If you are working with a musician, you may be able to skip that extra time talking with them before each exercise. (Most teacher training courses will ask you to go to the musician and tell them what you want, straight off the top, then, go and teach it! That is a great way to work if you have a less experienced accompanist or you're working on your musical abilities or perhaps you want to double check something with your musician; possibly you're preparing for a teaching exam where you will need to demonstrate this ability.) However, if you're working with an accompanist who knows what they're doing, marking musically and clearly demonstrating the rhythm in your voice and words will completely remove the necessity of that action. As an experienced accompanist, I'm sometimes frustrated by the waste of time that can happen when a teacher comes over to chat between every single exercise. This can be cut out mostly if you're able to clearly and articulately mark exactly what music/rhythm you want as you teach your exercise, whether it's a 4/4, or a 3/4, or a mazurka.

As you're heading back into the studios, or back on Zoom (gag me, am I right?), I want to encourage you to work on this skill. It's not immediately easy, but, as you get comfortable with the idea of using words, as well as numbers, this will become easier and more effective! 

P.S. The exercise was a 4/4! Slower tempo. Warm-up tendus. Is that what you guessed? 

P.P.S. The Barre Pianist is releasing a brand new music training course on August 15th, 2020, so, if you want to make sure that you hear about it, OR, if you're reading this after the fact and you want to sign up to get notice when the cart opens next, sign up here!



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